New State Bills Aim To Legalize Up To Four Ounces Of Marijuana For Personal Use
A new pair of bills in the state House and Senate aim to legalize carrying up to four ounces of marijuana in North Carolina. The bills, if passed, could also help in getting some previous drug charges erased.
As it stands now, possessing half an ounce of pot is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to 20 days - a sentence that is often suspended, or paid in community service. The newly introduced legislation would legalize possession of up to four ounces, exempting that amount of marijuana from being considered a controlled substance. The bill also raises the felony level from 1.5 ounces to a pound.
Democratic Senator Paul Lowe of Forsyth County is the Senate bill’s primary sponsor. The bill contains provisions for previous convictions as well. It would allow people who were charged with less than four ounces of marijuana to file a petition in Superior Court to have their records expunged.
Forsyth County district attorney Jim O’Neill tells the Winston Salem Journal that he wants to see the bills vetted. He’d also like them to include scientific evidence of any damage that smoking pot can cause to adolescent brains.
If passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, the laws would go into effect July 1.
North Carolina is one of 20 states that does not have a form of a medical marijuana law or legalized marijuana use.
(CORRECTION: This story has been changed to correct the sentencing for possession of small amounts of marijuana. It previously suggested that possession of up to four ounces of the drug would be a Class 3 misdemeanor. Under this bill, that amount would be legal.)